23 Oct 2014

Marine sector needs biosecurity focus

2:12 pm on 23 October 2014

Marine farmers have been told that biosecurity standards need to be improved in their industry as well as in the rest of the primary sector.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has repeatedly said biosecurity is his number one priority and he repeated that mantra when he opened this year's Aquaculture New Zealand conference in Nelson this morning.

"We'll never achieve our goal of doubling our exports in value by 2025 if we don't protect ourselves from unwanted pests and diseases. Your industry has had a few scares recently over the past few years and these have been an important wake up call.

"We've seen the impacts of the oyster virus and more recently, one in mussels."

He said a recent survey commissioned by Aquaculture New Zealand and MPI on the current biosecurity practices in aquaculture showed there are areas for improvement in the industry.

"These are things that you can do better, but also improvements that the Government needs to make. They've found that industry can look at better biosecurity education of aquaculture farmers and their staff, more assistance with pest identification and improved communication."

On the Government's side he said it has been noted that MPI could improve its relationship with industry by spending more time on the ground.

"I'm also encouraged to hear that biosecurity management and potential GIAs (Government Industry Agreements) are topics for discussion at this conference," Mr Guy said.

So far the kiwifruit and pork industries have signed biosecurity agreements with the Government and more are in the pipeline.